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The queen is coming
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The queen is coming

A new queen will be crowned at the 2021 Iowa Horse Fair being held in Des Moines March 26-28. After a brief hiatus, the Iowa Horse Fair Queen contest had finally returned in 2019. Then, 2020 happened.

“We were on track to have 20 contestants in 2020 but, due to COVID-19, the fair was not held,” Iowa Horse Council Vice-President Melissa Cash said. “This year we will have 21 contestants.”

Crystal Brown had always wanted to be a cowgirl queen, but never had a horse with which to compete. So, she did the next best thing – she organized a local queen contest in Clinton County. After running that contest successfully for more than five years, she implemented the plan to revive the Iowa Horse Fair Queen contest.

“I kept seeing people ask for it to come back.” Brown said. “I submitted my information and plan to the fair board. The rest is history.”

The queen contest consists of a written test, one hour volunteer at the horse fair, horsemanship pattern and each girl gets to do a “queen salute” to be judged, she said. The ladies must wear show attire.

The junior division is for ages 10-15 years and the senior for ages 16-26 years. Those requirements are modeled after the Iowa State Fair Cowgirl Queen.

“The contest relies heavily on the amazing support of sponsors,” Brown said. “Our crown, sash, belt buckles and other prizes are all provided by sponsors.”

The crown will be passed on to the new queen on the last day of the fair. The crowned winners in each division are given a spot to compete for the Iowa State Fair Cowgirl Queen in August.

Jon Burleson can be reached at

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